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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  March 5, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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>> charlie: welcome. we begin with the ongoing conflict in ukraine. our conversation is with robert gates, former secretary of defense for both president bush and president obama. >> putin is i think a very rational person in the framework of what he's trying to achieve. but there is no doubt david brooks has it right, there is this incredibly strong thread through much of russian history of russia having a special mission in the world, of russia being the third rome, if you will. it goes back centuries. so there is this -- you know, we talk about american exceptionalism. the russians have their own version of it in this regard. >> charlie: and then from kiev
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by skype, the former president of georgia, mikheil saakashvili. >> this is something that is bigger and the longer it lasts the bigger it will get. so there's a desperate need for leadership now on the parts of the united states administration and european leaders indeed because this is not just business as usual. on the other hand, i'm also, in a way have this hope that this will be one of the last adventures of vladimir putin. >> charlie: and we conclude this evening with a conversation with jeffrey goldberg of bloomberg view who just had a conversation with president obama about israeli palestinian issues. >> obama's ideas have shifted to a remarkable degree, not about his politics but his staying power and how essential he is to this process. so what he was going doing in
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the interview were two things. he was boxing him in saying, you know, time is up, you don't like to move, i know that but you've got to move. but he was also bucking him up in a way. >> charlie: robert gates, mikheil saakashvili and jeffrey goldberg when we continue.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: the continuing ongoing coverage of the crisis in ukraine, the situation in crimea remains tense with warning shots fired earlier today by russian soldiers. this morning russian president vladimir putin gave his first press conference since the conflict began. he said he saw no reason for forces to intervene in eastern ukraine at the moment but did not close the door on military action. [ speaking in foreign language ]
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>> charlie: president obama also spoke today and promised consequences for russia's actions. >> from the perspective of the european union, the united states, allies like canada and japan and allies and friends and partners around the world, there is a strong belief russia's action is violating international law. i don't know if president putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but i don't think that's fooling anybody. i think everybody recognizes that, although russia has legitimate interests in what happens in the neighboring
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state, that does not give it the right to use force as a means of exerting influence inside of that state. >> charlie: secretary of state john kerry in kiev praised restraint. from phoenix, arizona, robert gates, served as secretary of defense from 2006 to 201 # 1. i'm pleased to have him back on the the program. early in his career, he was known as a russian expert. thank you, mr. secretary, glad to have you. >> good to be here. >> charlie: when will you lose the neck brace? >> with any luck, about three weeks. >> charlie: is the president handling this about right or not? >> i think he is. trying to get thel the allies oe same page and being willing to collectively first threaten and
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then potentially implement severe sanctions against russia for what they had done in ukraine is exactly what he should be doing. i think that it's important at this stage to be careful with the rhetoric that you don't say things to look tough, that then in retrospect look hollow if you're unable to follow through. i think the challenge the president faces is that our allies may not be as willing to go along with these sanctions as they should be. we're hearing from the uk, from germany, elsewhere, a reluctance to impose banking sanctions, to impose trade sanctions and so on. so i think -- i think that the administration and the president personally have their work cut out for them in trying to get these guys to actually agree to
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impose these sanctions and do so in a timely way. >> charlie: at the c.i.a. and the defense department, you have access to all kinds of analysis of vladimir putin. what do you think he's up to and how far is he prepared to go? >> well, i'm kind of amused by some of the headlines that i'm seeing on tv and elsewhere that he's lost touch with reality or that he doesn't understand that this is a new world or whatever. he knows exactly what he's doing. he is trying to reestablish russian influence and a measure of control over the former states of the soviet union. he doesn't want to bring them back into the soviet union. he doesn't want to re-create the soviet union. he just wants them, in effect, to be part of an alliance with russia but where they essentially do russia's bidding, and he's trying to prevent them from moving to the west. he's been successful in doing that and breaking the deal
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between armenia and the e.u. he has been successful in getting the ukraine to yanukovich before he fled kiev to break the deal with the e.u. so he's trying to bring all these countries back into russia's orbit in a way that reflects a long period of history. i think that he's not -- as i say, i don't think he's trying to re-create the soviet union, but he wants the near abroad to be russian in every respect. >> charlie: why don't you think he wants to re-create the soviet union? first of all -- i understand there are places he can't do it, but poland -- >> poland was never part of the soviet union. it's part of the warsaw pact. first of all, he doesn't want all of the economic problems of those countries. ukraine is an economic basket case. so are some of the other states
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in the near abroad. so what he wants is political influence, he wants these countries to look to russia for guidance on what to do on the international environment, and he also wants to re-create or create some kind of an economic union, but he certainly doesn't want responsibility for internal problems that a lot of these countries have, especially their economic problems. >> so even though he said the worst thing that happened in the history of the 20th century was the collapse of the soviet union, you believe that if he thought he could re-create the soviet union, he would want to because of all the problems that would go with that, especially economic? >> he just wants those countries of the near abroad, most of all ukraine looking to russia and as part of an arrangement with russia, not part of the arrangement with the west. he wants to avoid them
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establishing stronger linkages with the west and he wants them to have much stronger linkages with russia, where russia actually has some measure of control. >> charlie: and he says that specifically in part, does he not? >> well, yeah, i think -- he's a typical autocrat. he's made no secret of what he wants to do and he's doing it and i think he has a clear purpose in mind. he's taking the long view here and he's prepared play this out. so we'll see tactical moves one way or another over the next days and weeks, but i think we need to keep in mind what his objective is, and my view is he will not back down, he will not bring those troops out of crimea until he is satisfied that there is a government in kiev that looks to russia. >> charlie: and can we live with that? >> well, i think that's a very -- i think that's a very tough question.
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i think that's certainly not our desired outcome in this contest, if you will, for the direction that ukraine will go in the future. we want ukraine to have -- to be able to choose its own path. >> charlie: a at the risk of having you repeat this because we had a technical problem for the moment, let's focus on the two objective, one hand putin, the other hand president obama. what is it they hope to accomplish in the next two or three weeks? >> well, i think that, first of all, putin has a much longer game than that. i think he's looking at months and maybe years in terms of reconn'reconstituting russia's relationships with the former states of the soviet union and russia's influence over those states, and i think that's his objective. and ukraine is the most important of those states from his standpoint, and i think it's
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a very high priority for him to pull ukraine back into russia's orbit. that's what he's going to try and do and, frankly, i don't think he's going to make any significant concessions. we'll see tactical moves back and forth in the next days and weeks, but i think that you will not see him back away from that fundamental objective which he has been pursuing for some time. our objective is for ukraine to have independence, for it to be a democratic state, to be able to choose its own leaders and, if it chooses to closely align with the west and the e.u., to be able to do that. those are the objectives that the west has in this. so these are clearly contrary, and those who say putin has, you know, violated international law and that he's playing the old great power game, i think the answer to that is, yes, he is, but that's the way he plays the game and it's the way he's been
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playing the game for the last several years. >> charlie: you have said that president obama should be "looking two or three moves out" as if this was a chess game. what would looking two or three moves out mean? >> well, i think one thing we need to do fairly promptly is to develop a menu of actions that we can take to reassure other nations on russia's periphery, and most specifically those that are nato allies where we have a commitment to defend them, that we will, in fact, fulfill that commitment, and i'm speaking particularly of lithuania, latvia, estonia, poland, and i think this is one place where looking at troop rotations, at rotating air wings in and out, various gestures of summi suppor those states so that we send the signal both to their populations and their governments that we
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will stand by our commitments to them, but also as a signal to the russians not to fool around with these countries that are in fact nato allies. that's one thing we could do, looking out some period into the future, that would show russia that these moves in georgia, with armenia, with ukraine have longer-term consequences for them beyond the economic sanctions. >> charlie: there are those who argue -- and gave brooks touched on this today in "the new york times" -- that there is a kind of nationalism that putin is obsessed by and that it might, with respect to ukraine and other places, in his -- i don't want to use the word messianic, but something akin to that -- replace rational calculus, that he will be prepared to go further than
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rationality might argue he does. do you have -- >> well, i don't believe that he will go beyond rationality. i think putin is a realist and i think he is a very rational person in the framework of what he's trying to achieve, but there is no doubt david brooks has it right, there is this incredibly strong thread through much of russian history of russia having a special mission in the world, of russia being the third rome, if you will. it goes back centuries. so there is this -- you know, we talk about american exceptionalism, the russians have their own version of it in this regard, and there is no question in my mind that putin is a russian nationalist in the first order and that he does believe russia has a special mission, and restoring russia's
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power and influence i think is at the forefront of vladimir putin's power and he intends to do it. >> charlie: how important is having this exit ramp to himp and means to us to make sure that we want to say to them, you know, these are the kinds of leverage we have, you have your own leverage, but we also want to provide a way that both of us can with our own integrity and dignity intact walk away from this? >> well, whatever tactical compromises he makes -- he may make in the period ahead, there is no doubt in my mind that vladimir putin intends for there to be a government in kiev that looks to russia and that is heavily influenced by russia and that is in russia's orbit, and i think that he will not give up on that goal. and i worry that he thinks that he -- well, i believe that he
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thinks he holds a lot of high cards in this situation. >> charlie: yes. we need him with respect to syria, we need him with respect to iran and the nuclear negotiations. we still have that northern distribution at work to bring equipment out of afghanistan across russia. he has significant economic leverage over ukraine because of the supply of energy. he has some influence in western europe, which still gets 25% of their energy from russia. so i think he's sitting there thinking that, in fact, he probably holds the better hand here for whatever negotiation is to come. >> charlie: do you believe he holds the better hand? >> frankly, based on what i'm hearing out of western europe and the reluctance of the europeans to embrace tough sanctions, i think, at least
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right now, i think he does. >> charlie: so if the europeans are not willing to go forward with tough sanctions, we're in a bad place. >> i think we are. >> charlie: you also have suggested some of your fellow republicans should tone down their rhetoric. >> well, this is a serious crisis that the west is facing, and, you know, when i -- i spent most of my life in the government at a time when, during immediate crises, people came together and were supportive of the president basically with the old line that politics stopped at the water's edge. i think people, right now while the president is trying to get the allies on board, while he's facing off with putin and so on, i think to have people, in effect, out there calling him weak or calling him names or criticizing him is not helpful
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in terms of helping achieve the objectives that the united states needs to cleav achieve is situation that we face. >> charlie: do you believe that if, in fact, some means could be developed to bring the allies on board -- germany, u.k. -- that a combination of sanctions would restrain vladimir putin from taking the actions he's taking in crimea and in the rest of ukraine? >> i don't think so in the immediate future. i think, over time, they could have an influence, particularly if they have the effect of creating really severe problems for the russian economy, and the russian economy clearly is much more intertwined with the west today than it was, say, in 1968 when they invaded czechoslovakia and so on. so, i think, over time, they
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could have that effect. i think to expect them to have an immediate effect would -- is not realistic and, frankly, i think you will hear more of what putin said earlier today in terms of defiance if there was an effort to -- if we were successful in getting sanctions put together. >> putting on your historian's cap for a second, was it a mistake to push the frontiers of nato? >> well, first of all, i think those frontiers were not pushed into georgia and they were not pushed into ukraine, they are not members of nato, they're not members of th the alliance. >> charlie: but we wanted that, didn't we? >> we certainly wanted it. i think it was pretty clear, certainly by 2008, that the germans and the french and others were not going to allow it to happen. i think that, as i've written in the book, i think that we
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probably did move too far too fast. i always believed we should have immediately admitted the battlingic states -- poland, hungary, czechoslovakia -- into nato. i think pushing beyond those lines too quickly violated what i think the russians thought were the arrangements that were made at the end of the cold war. >> charlie: do you think he thinks he understands president obama and that president obama is committed not to use force and president obama, in the end, gives him more leverage than another president might? >> well, i don't think so. you know, i think if you roll the clock back and let's say the president had used force in syria and had done some other things or the defense budget wasn't being cut, i don't think that that would have changed the
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calculus that putin has under these circumstances. i think that, you know, there are no realistic military options for the west in ukraine and certainly in crimea any more than there were when putin invaded georgia in august of 2008. let's just be realistic about that. george bush was president of the united states in august of 2008. nobody ever accused him of an unwillingness to use force or of not being tough enough, but that did not deter putin from invading georgia. so i don't think it would have mattered with respect to president obama either. >> charlie: someone watching this conversation would say perhaps the following thing -- bob gates believes that in the short term vladimir putin will get what he wants in ukraine. >> well, i think that remains to
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be seen, and it depends on how tough the people are in kiev. it depends on whether the west does come together and speaks with one voice and is willing to take tough actions. i think it depends a lot on what unfolds over the next days and weeks, particularly in terms of solidarity in the west and the willingness to react strongly to a clear, overt act of aggression by the russians in ukraine. and if the west does act strongly and does take a number of the measurers that we have been talking about, then i think we have -- we're in a pretty good place. but putin also feels strongly about his objective, so that's why i say this is an important crisis. this is a faceoff over a huge country in europe that -- in which both west and east, if you will, have a significant stake. i don't think anybody knows how it will ultimately turn out at this point. >> charlie: yeah, but you have
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said putin has more leverage, more cards than the president does in this crisis. >> what i said is that i think he thinks he has the high cards because of syria, because of the need for him in iran and so on. >> charlie: maybe i misunderstood. i thought you said, when i asked you directly do you believe that, and you said yes, i do, that he has more power -- >> i do believe in the short term, and based on what i'm hearing out of europe that he has high cards. but as i said just a minute ago, if the west is able to come together and is able to threaten and then implement sanctions relatively quickly, then i think maybe his cards don't look so good anymore. >> charlie: are you convinced, looking at iran, that sanctions can work and, no matter how tough the leadership and no matter how they might not understand america, they will respond to universal sanctions
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that are applied well? >> well, this is one of these areas where i think you need to think three and four moves out. for example, if you do apply sanctions, at what point -- what would be required -- what actions would be required by russia to lift those sanctions? >> charlie: yeah. have you thought that through? what must they do in order to lift those sanctions? do you lift them partially or entirely? that's where i think people need to be thinking two or three moves out, if we do this, what will he do, what will we do. >> charlie: then it comes to the question what will we demand they do to lift the sanctions. so the question to you is what should we demand for them to lift the sanctions if they're imposed and imposed with full coordination between the united states and europe? >> yeah. well, let me just say, quite honestly, i'm skeptical at the
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europeanthat theeuropeans will t of serious sanctions, okay? i've watched it. i've watched it in georgia and one of the things i worry about is that if we press -- if, as we did in georgia -- there was a number of stronger things we, the united states, wanted to do in response to georgia, but by doing them alone we would have isolated ourselves instead of the russians. that's one of the risks for the president. if he pushes too far and the united states gets too far out in front an and the europeans -e looks behind and none of the europeans are there, then we risk being the ones isolated here. so i'm not optimistic about how this is going to turn out, quite frankly, partly, in no small part, because i don't think the europeans are prepared too take the steps necessary to put the pressure on putin militarily in eastern europe or economically
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and politically elsewhere, including in ukraine. >> charlie: and that's a bad omen for the future. >> i think so. >> charlie: secretary gates, thank you so much. pleasure. >> thank you, charlie. >> charlie: we turn now to mikheil saakashvili. he joins us from kiev via skype. he served, as you know, as the president of georgia from 2004 until 2013. many have compared russia's military intervention in ukraine to russia's invasion of georgia in 2008. i am pleased to have him back on this program from kiev. welcome. >> thank you. it's nice to be back to your show, charlie. >> charlie: tell me what you think the russians are up to and how far they will go. >> i think the russians definitely wants to grab crimea for good for a number of reasons. he wants to extend his own
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political existence inside russia, he wants to feel like a strong man on soviet space as well as all over europe. but also there's one big secret in crimea, almost 100 percent of shell gas is in europe. it means russia would lose its biggest customer in europe and europe would get major alternative source of energy. by grabbing crimea, putin basically killed the whole idea of energy in ukraine but also for energy to europe. not many people talk about it but that's one to have the secrets behind the whole operation and the american companies with shell gas are in trouble now. so it's a political gamble for
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president putin. he's up to long-term. >> charlie: what does the west have to do to stop that? >> that's the big challenge. what's happening now is that the ukraine is bigger than georgia. now if he does not come here, he will go further. you know, there is an american web site that published something based on correspondence of u.s. diplomats meetings with me. the problem is that if he gets away with crimea and ukraine,
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he'll go for baltic, even if they're members of nato. he will try to annex territories inside georgia and crimea. the whole distraction to have the post cold war and post-secondary war is over in europe and they are one of the main beneficiaries. so the u.s. is really at stake. one of the challenges for the u.s. and anywhere in the world an it cannot be neglected. a lot of things that need to be done can't be done and we have to think about the choice, what they're faced with this kind of very ultra challenge from putin. >> charlie: and what are the lessons from 2008? >> well, the main lesson is that the west, after a while, you know, continued business as
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usual. the problem in ukraine, they are not talking about the occupation of crimea, but there's saying there's an escalation. the escalation, to me, is the word that gives lots of possibilities for europeans not to do anything because escalation could mean having one less military outpost or starting talks with ukraine and, so, they say, so what -- so we cannot do sanctions. and that's the catch. they should not be talking escalation, they should talk occupation because the trouble is not going away. it's the same way how nazi
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germany grabbed slovakia, but not a single shot was fired but led to second world war. and then chamberlain, the british prime minister, was notorious for things we know very little. ukraine is a big country. we're living in a modern-day world. they should learn from their own mistakes, the european countries. >> charlie: do you think the west and the united states has the political will to stop mr. putin if, in fact, his agenda is as you describe? >> well, their interests are
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engaging. the point is that because putin thinks it's a zero game, this is not a zero game. anthis is going to affect a serious situation all the way to the financial markets and internal domestic situations of the united states and also the european situation. this is something that is really major and big and the longer it will last, the bigger it will get. and, so, there is a huge need and desperate need for leadership on the part of the united states and the european leaders indeed because this is not just just business as usual. on the other hand, i'm also in a way -- i hope this will be one of the last adventures of
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vladimir putin because it's just terrible. right now, he has everyone around him. putin told me your western friends make a nice promise. i always deliver. he's very clear. he does want to be clear. he doesn't want to be liked. he wants to be feared. >> charlie: okay. but the question, notwithstanding everything you have said and all the people i've talked to here in the united states, the question remains that if he is prepared to go a long way in pursuit of these objectives, what does the west and the united states have to be prepared to do? does it require, you know, a strong presence by nato? does it require other actions beyond economic sanctions, beyond the seeing of assets,
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beyond -- sieging of assets, beyond not going to meetings of western companies in order to stop him? >> first of all, it's already a big deal. i'm not so sure the west is prepared. i saw the british government saying things about london because it will collapse the prices in buying houses there. but the west goes beyond that in objectives because of interest. it's a very short time. it will destroy the west. >> charlie: do you think putin is desperate? that this is an act of desperation by him in order to cover up failures at home? >> look, putin knows better than anybody there is no middle class and an increasing movement, but
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also he's a very paranoid person and, you know, for instance, in ukraine was done by cia. i'm sure cia is scratching their heads. they're still guessing how it happened in the ukraine. but for putin, what happens here magnifies what happens inside russia. it's almost a perpetual way for his existence. i heard president obama saying putin is taking pause but it's the pause that wants to tune down the vigilance of the westerners, will go for crimea
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then something else, and my guess would be the baltics. because they're members of nato. out there, you know, was it provoked by the baltic countries or russia? you know, ukraine also got guarantees from the west. big countries and small countries. the only thing that regulated this whole thing is international law and if international law is thrown out the window, we are facing chaos and certainly the big powers like the united states and other big powers will be in danger. >> charlie: thank you for coming and taking time to talk to us. good to see you. we'll see you when you come back to the united states. >> charlie: we turn now to the middle east.
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president obama welcomes israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu to the white house monday. the meeting was part of the president's effort to take a more prominent role in the israeli-palestinian peace talks and will meet with president abbas on march 17. tensions with russia over ukraine are complicating american policies in the middle east. joining me is jeffrey goldberg, interviewed president obama ahead of his meeting with netanyahu and i am pleased to have him back on this program. let me begin with this question -- why would all of us so badly want to interview president obama and he only wants to talk to you? [ laughter ] >> because i have the nicest ties. i don't know, charlie. >> charlie: but it's a serious question because i think it says something about his mind and -- you know, because these are not short interviews and he takes his time and feels like he has a chance to tell it through you,
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my guess is some sense of how he sees the nuances of israeli-palestinian issues and his own genuine concerns. >> yeah, you know, so i have been interviewing him for a while on these subjects since he was in the senate. >> charlie: right. so, you know, there's -- the thing that's remarkable about him, to me, is the level of detail he masters. even in this period when he hasn't been as engaged, certainly not like the secretary of state, right? >> charlie: right. he has this very deep in his bones and i think you're right, there's a deep concern. now there's two ways of looking at his concern. one is that he's anti-israel and is just trying to beat it up, and the other is that he's very concerned about the course and the direction of the israeli-palestinian conflict and wants to raise these concerns and, so, you know, since we've
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done this, we've had this kind of conversation before, it just seems like, you know, a good thing to do. it is true. i mean, i spent an hour with him talking about basically this one subject. i mean, we got on iran and we got to syria as well. but it's a pretty small part of the globe overall. >> charlie: so did you learn anything you didn't know? >> yeah, actually, i did. i think, in way -- like i said, the first conversation i had with him was seven years ago on this subject. i think that it's not that the gloves are coming off. i think that -- i don't know what you would call it, the mask of diplomatic language is coming off a little bit. he doesn't have to run again for anything and he's not concerned about -- he doesn't go to apec anymore to give speeches. he doesn't have to do that anymore. it's not a group he particularly likes. you know, maybe the people in the white house don't like it
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more, but he doesn't particularly appreciate it. he sees it as a link to reflectively the right. so he was more specific about the problems he sees down the road for israel than i've ever heard him. the israelis took it as very, very blunt. i thought it was still, you know, done and couched in a kind of "i want to be a help here." but, you know, talking about the demographics, very, very specific talk about how israel is going to cease to be a jewish democracy at a certain point, you know, very, very specific talk about how he's having a harder time defending israel in international organizations. i asked it very specifically. i said, are you increasingly unwilling or unable, i mean, there's obviously a difference. he says, it's not willingness. he was careful to say that the u.s.-israeli relationship is essentially undying, that the u.s. will always be there for israel, we have policy differences but the love remains. but he says, you know, israel is
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growing more isolated and we can't defend it in the same way. i took it a little bit as a veiled threat, ton months. >> charlie: you did. you took it as a threat from the united states or what? >> it's almost up there with nice little jewish state you got there, hate to see something happen to it. you know. it was, look, i want to help you, but you're not helping me help you, and, therefore, you know, there's only so much political capital i'm going to spend in the u.n., with the e.u., with the arab league on your behalf. i think it was all couched very carefully but it's there and certainly the government in israel feels it's there. >> charlie: tell me what you think about the relationship between benjamin netanyahu and barack obama. >> oh, it's just filled with joy. [ laughter ] very clearly. >> charlie: oh, no, no, no, now! i have opinions about this, so go at it.
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[ laughter ] you know, i think there's a kind of -- more on the part of the president to look at it and from your interview, it says that -- >> yeah. -- i mean, he has a certain grudging respect for the prime minister. >> oh, yeah. >> charlie: and the prime minister is in an historic position because of his political skills to do things, and he pays him that respect. >> look, i've rehearsed this theory and i think that obama shares this theory. you know, there are three seats in the zionist pantheon to mix paganism and judaism for a minute -- [ laughter ] >> there's hertzel who thoughtful the idea of modern science and it was turned into a state and the third seat is who makes israel a permanent entity with permanent borders and recognition of its neighbors. four or five years ago, obama
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and his people especially believed that netanyahu was a passing phenomenon. they were waiting for livni to take over and under the impression that b.b. would be taking off his stage. president obama's opinion shifted as to his staying power and the process. in the interview, he was boxing him in, basically saying, you know, time is up, you don't like to move, i know that, but you've got to move. but he was also bucking him up in a way. so there was boxings him in and bucking him up. he was bucking him up by saying, your the man, you're the only one, you're the guy, and i think that's the way he's kind of working the situation at the moment. >> charlie: that's a touch of lyndon johnson in him and nobody ever thinks there's any of lyndon johnson in barack obama, but what's that johnson did.
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>> part of obama's frustration, and i asked the president, i said this to him, i said, my sense of you sha you believe that the prime minister is very intelligent, that you admire his political skills, but that you think that he doesn't spend down political capital for important things, like this peace process. and h president pretty -- and the president pretty much agreed on that form -- formula that he's just kind of waiting. the prime minister understands making forward motion in the solution. the open question in the white house is does he have the guts and the political courage to go do it. >> charlie: is there any hope of coming away with any kind of agreement before the obama administration ends? >> look, i think, you know, we've talked about this in the past. i used to be more of a skeptic about the potential for a framework agreement. i'm not that pessimistic about
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getting to a framework agreement mainly because john kerry won't leave him alone till he gets that agreement. >> charlie: but that's what you want in a secretary of state, isn't it? >> no, it's an amazing thing to watch because he really does push this as hard as humanly possible. look, i think there's a little bit of good cop bad cop going on. kerry took it as his job and this is actually smart -- kerry made a list, essentially, of what are the things that prevents netanyahu from moving forward and he's working through the list. you know, security in the jordan valley, okay, we'll work on that. the whole issue of recognition as a jewish state. we'll work on this, systematically, to the point we believe it's making the palestinian leader mahmoud abbas very nervous, because john kerry seems to be working overtime to get b.b. on board. i think if there's -- you know, i don't mean to be a middle
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eastern conspiracymonger, but if there's a hidden message of the interview that the president gave to me last week it was a little balancing out. like he wanted -- he wants the palestinian leader to know, hey, it's not only you who's under pressure, i'm putting heat on the israeli prime minister himself. so you shouldn't feel like all we're doing is trying to make benjamin netanyahu happy here. >> charlie: yeah, some speculation that the kerry deal calls for capital for the palestinian state in a suburb of jerusalem? >> yeah, again, you know, they closely hold the details of this, and, i mean, the most remarkable thing about this process is that neither the israelis nor the palestinian negotiators have leaked very much at all. in fact, that's very much the miracle in this. but, yeah, we've heard that, that kerry floated the idea of calling this area outside of
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jerusalem, calling it east jerusalem, sort of extending the borders or boundaries of what jerusalem would be and saying, okay, this can be your capital. we're dealing in second or third-hand information, but apparently that made the palestinian president abbas very upset because, from the palestinian perspective, that's nonnegotiable. the jews will have their capitol in west jerusalem, and we'll have ours in east jerusalem proper, so i think that's what they're arguing about at the moment. >> charlie: has this idea of the jewish state been settled? have they come to an agreement? >> that's an enormous philosophical question. >> charlie: i know. but on the negotiating standpoint, do you mean? >> charlie: yeah. no, i mean, you know, i think it's unrealistic to expect that -- unrealistic to expect that a palestinian leader in an
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opening round is going to say, okay, we're going to now give up our narrative because, remember, that's what this is about. why does netanyahu want the palestinian to say israel is a legitimate jewish homeland? because he wants the palestinians to acknowledge that the jews are also from there. that's the whole thing. the palestinian narrative, the narrative of mahmoud abbas' palestinian organization going back to its founding yasser arafat is that israel is a foreign implant, a colonial enterprise. you can't be a colonial enterprise if you're returning home. so for the palestinians to come out -- the palestinian leader to come out and say, yeah, the jews are actually from here and, so, this is their country, that's a huge deal, and what it does -- what it signals, also, to the
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4 million or 5 million palestinians who are refugees or mostly in this case defendants of refugees, it basically tells them you may have dreams of going back, going to the villages where your grandfather or grandparents are from, but that's not happening because we're actually acknowledging the juice are also from there and you're going to have to find your peace and your citizenship and your feeling of wholeness in this new state of palestine which is the west bank in gaza. >> charlie: where are the differences on iran between what the president said to you and what the prime minister says to the world? >> i guess i would divide it into two categories. i mean, there is the practical category. netanyahu wants complete capitulation by iran. he wants america to force capitulation. he doesn't want them to have any kind of native enrichment
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capacity, right? i think president obama, like the europeans, like his partners in this would be happy with an iran that was perpetually 16 months to 18 months away from being able to produce a nuclear bomb, what people call nuclear breakout, right? so there's the technical issue. i think the broader issue, especially after what happened in syria this summer with the chemical weapons, the broader issue is, i'm not sure the prime minister believes barack obama would ever use force to stop iran from gaining hold of a nuclear weapon if they actually succeeded in getting very, very close to it and, of course, it's the continued argument of barack obama, something that, you know, we talked about a couple of years ago when i did an interview on the iran issue with the president where he said i'm not bluffing, all options are on the table, i've got israel's back, and so on, you know,
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obama's line continues to be that "i will do what i need to do to stop iran from getting a bomb," iran is not getting a bomb on my watch. so the israelis and our arab allies don't ever believe obama would use force to stop them. >> charlie: and especially after the red line in syria. >> you know, obviously, i did this interview before ukraine sort of went sideways and, you know, ukraine has provided more ammunition to the people who say, no, in fact, america's adversaries are not scared of america's president. >> charlie: he must bristle at that. >> yeah. you know, you've got to ask the questions you've got to ask, but i knew, you know -- i knew there were two areas of special sensitivity, one is do you really think they think you're tough, you know, in so many words. >> charlie: yeah. and the second question, you know, that caused him to kind of lean forward a little bit was
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the question, you know, if you could -- well, i mean, it was sort of a two-part question. one is what does bashar have to do to the people without provoking military response. and i asked, if you had rolled the clock back, would you have been more help to a more moderate syrian opposition. >> charlie: the interesting thing from my standpoint of all of this, does he feel like the clock is ticking for him, you know, and that he's running out of time in order to make some significant difference? >> look, there are, you know, three issues that he could one day perhaps point to as achievements in the middle east apart from the obvious -- you know, the obvious killing of osama bin laden and pulling out
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troops on iraq. you know, the chemical weapons, he wants them out of syria for all of the reasons the american president wants them out, but he ntthem out because that would be a victory for his kind of what you would call muscular diplomacy. >> charlie: a victory for force. >> a victory for threatening force and getting through diplomacy because of the threats what you want. then, of course, there's iran and getting some kind of nuclear agreement, you know, which is not that optimistic on, he said it before. he says he gives it a 50/50 shot, but that would be a huge achievement. and by the way, that's one of the reasons his critics are so worried about the iran process is they know it would count as a big achievement so they're worried he would make a bad deal. and the third one, may be why he's injecting himself more into the middle east peace process, is that remains the big
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enchilada for anyone. a lot of presidents have spent a lot of time, you know, trying to bring that about in the search for a nobel peace prize. i mean, obama already has one but i think kerry would certainly like one. i think he's looking at the process and saying maybe john kerry has ginned up something good here and i want to go forward and make it work. >> charlie: thank you, jeffrey, great interview. >> thank you. >> charlie: would you please tell him next time there are other people who'd like to interview him, not just you? >> you have good access. not worried about you. >> charlie: thank you very much. great interview. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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